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The Dirty Dozen
dir. Robert Aldrich / USA, UK 1967 / 150’
subtitles: Polish


Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, John Cassavetes, Richard Jaeckel, George Kennedy, Trini López, Ralph Meeker, Robert Ryan, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland


awards: Oscar 1968 – best sound effects, American Cinema Editors 1968 – best editing in feature film, Laurel Awards 1968 – best actor, best supporting actor

Film description

It is 1944 and the Americans are looking for a way to quickly end the war. An opportunity arises when Nazi brass gathers to relax at a French castle – their assassination would paralyze Hitler’s armies. Major John Reisman trains a division of commandos plucked straight from death row for a suicide mission.

They don’t make ‘em anymore like Robert Aldrich’s classic war film, The Dirty Dozen. Shocking (at the time) for its brutality and irony, this adaptation of E.M. Nathanson’s novel is a great opportunity to see so many extremely characteristic actors in one film: Charles Bronson, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland, and John Cassavetes in his Oscar-nominated role. Interestingly, Lee Marvin, who played Major Reisman (who got the call after John Wayne turned the film down), once called the film a piece of junk that has nothing to do with real war. The Dozen definitely showcases the director’s talents, whose iron hand kept the film from becoming a disjointed series of action scenes. Aldrich proved his determination when he refused to cut the scene where Jim Brown throws a grenade into a civilian shelter – without it, the film would have been a shoo-in for the Oscar. Aldrich never got another shot at an Academy Award.

Samuel Nowak


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